Brats, brews and Bavaria

Brats, brews and Bavaria

Germanfest Picnic celebrates 30th year

By Sara Mastbaum

 

Photo: [l to r] Dayton Leiderkranz-Turner club members Amy Kinter and Sarah Boone; photo: Amy Kinter

 

Thirty years ago, the Germanfest Picnic, sponsored by Dayton Liederkranz-Turner, was a simple afternoon picnic for a few club members. In 2011, crowds swelled to a record 40,000 people over three days. On Aug. 9, the club is kicking off their 30th annual Germanfest Picnic at Carillon Park to celebrate its rich history and provide a little German hospitality.

The picnic started as a way to liven up Carillon Park during the summer. “About 30 years ago, the manager at Carillon Park approached us with an idea that they’d like to add some activities to the park in the summer,” said Germanfest Picnic chairman John Koerner. “This started as a club picnic in 1983, and within two or three years, word got around and more and more people started coming.”

Within five years, the picnic had taken off. “People from the public, friends and family members were coming for what started as just a simple afternoon event,” Koerner said. “Within five years, it had gone to a couple days, then quickly grew to the whole weekend. It had become that popular.”

Planning for the event now begins with a briefing immediately following the festival and takes off with monthly meetings from January through July. With popularity came a growing number of events, live entertainment and – most recently – craft vendors. However, the club strives to keep the focus on celebrating German heritage. “[The festival] is the only one in the area, particularly among the ethnic festivals, that celebrates German heritage,” Koerner said. “We’re a little bit different than some festivals. We’re not a street festival, we don’t have tons of vendors selling the same thing.” Vending is limited to one vendor per type of product, and the vendors typically sell items imported from Germany.

The festival isn’t the only anniversary the club is commemorating this year. Like many groups around the area, Dayton Liederkranz-Turner plans to recognize the centennial of the 1913 Dayton flood.

“Most Daytonians don’t know that when John Patterson went to Columbus to ask Governor Cox for aid, he was accompanied by German brewer Adam Schantz,” said Judy Schneider, who coordinates the club’s publicity. “Schantz made the first official contribution to the fund to build the dams that now protect the city.”

The special exhibition “Hochwasser” – or “high water” – will focus on the flood’s impact on Dayton’s German-speaking community. “In 1913, about 20 percent of Dayton’s 116,000-plus residents were immigrants or first-generation German speakers,” Schneider said. “Many of them lived in areas hugely impacted by the flood.” She added, “This all ties in beautifully to Carillon Park’s new Flood Exhibit. We hope festivalgoers will take the time to see that, too.”

Along with a look at history, the festival will offer a number of other activities. The opening festivities traditionally draw large crowds, and the club has added a few things in honor of the picnic’s anniversary. “For the first time in Dayton, we’re going to have an Alphorn group,” Koerner said. “They’re going to be playing Friday, around the time of our opening ceremonies, which start at 6:30 p.m.”

The festival opens with the tapping of the keg, which is how the traditional German Oktoberfest celebration begins. “We have some TV personalities coming to help us open the barrel,” Koerner said. The opening ceremony will also feature a 5K run/walk, now in its 13th year. Other activities scheduled throughout the weekend include a kid’s zone, a fashion show and the Polka Mass, planned for Sunday, Aug. 11 at 11 a.m.

For many, the picnic’s beer selection is one of the biggest draws. “We have traditional German beers,” Koerner said. “The first Oktoberfest beers of the season, typically.” Oktoberfest beers originate from a German tradition of finishing off brews made in the spring to make room in the breweries for the grains of the fall harvest. Traditionally, these are medium- to full-bodied beers in the Marzen style, although modern Oktoberfests often include a wider range of styles.

This year, the club is adding a special beer event. “We’re going to have a beer contest as part of the fashion show,” Koerner said. “Which should be interesting.”

Since the event started as a picnic, the food is always a major draw for the festival. “Our club members provide the backbone of the food service,” said Koerner. “It’s all made by our own people.” Popular menu items include bratwurst, metts, schnitzel dinners and cabbage rolls. The club plans to have plenty of seating available for diners.

The crowd hit record highs when the Budweiser Clydesdales rolled through town in 2011, and the festival continues to grow. “Many people within the last few years have come for the first time,” said Koerner. “It’s a very family-friendly environment, and people like the atmosphere and the ambiance. Everyone is welcome.”

 

The 2013 Germanfest Picnic presented by the Dayton Liederkranz-Turner will be held Aug. 9-11 at Carillon Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd. Admission is free and onsite parking is available for $2. For more information, please visit daytongermanclub.org.

 Thirty years ago, the Germanfest Picnic, sponsored by Dayton Liederkranz-Turner, was a simple afternoon picnic for a few club members. In 2011, crowds swelled to a record 40,000 people over three days. On Aug. 9, the club is kicking off their 30th annual Germanfest Picnic at Carillon Park to celebrate its rich history and provide a little German hospitality.

The picnic started as a way to liven up Carillon Park during the summer. “About 30 years ago, the manager at Carillon Park approached us with an idea that they’d like to add some activities to the park in the summer,” said Germanfest Picnic chairman John Koerner. “This started as a club picnic in 1983, and within two or three years, word got around and more and more people started coming.”

Within five years, the picnic had taken off. “People from the public, friends and family members were coming for what started as just a simple afternoon event,” Koerner said. “Within five years, it had gone to a couple days, then quickly grew to the whole weekend. It had become that popular.”

Planning for the event now begins with a briefing immediately following the festival and takes off with monthly meetings from January through July. With popularity came a growing number of events, live entertainment and – most recently – craft vendors. However, the club strives to keep the focus on celebrating German heritage. “[The festival] is the only one in the area, particularly among the ethnic festivals, that celebrates German heritage,” Koerner said. “We’re a little bit different than some festivals. We’re not a street festival, we don’t have tons of vendors selling the same thing.” Vending is limited to one vendor per type of product, and the vendors typically sell items imported from Germany.

The festival isn’t the only anniversary the club is commemorating this year. Like many groups around the area, Dayton Liederkranz-Turner plans to recognize the centennial of the 1913 Dayton flood.

“Most Daytonians don’t know that when John Patterson went to Columbus to ask Governor Cox for aid, he was accompanied by German brewer Adam Schantz,” said Judy Schneider, who coordinates the club’s publicity. “Schantz made the first official contribution to the fund to build the dams that now protect the city.”

The special exhibition “Hochwasser” – or “high water” – will focus on the flood’s impact on Dayton’s German-speaking community. “In 1913, about 20 percent of Dayton’s 116,000-plus residents were immigrants or first-generation German speakers,” Schneider said. “Many of them lived in areas hugely impacted by the flood.” She added, “This all ties in beautifully to Carillon Park’s new Flood Exhibit. We hope festivalgoers will take the time to see that, too.”

Along with a look at history, the festival will offer a number of other activities. The opening festivities traditionally draw large crowds, and the club has added a few things in honor of the picnic’s anniversary. “For the first time in Dayton, we’re going to have an Alphorn group,” Koerner said. “They’re going to be playing Friday, around the time of our opening ceremonies, which start at 6:30 p.m.”

The festival opens with the tapping of the keg, which is how the traditional German Oktoberfest celebration begins. “We have some TV personalities coming to help us open the barrel,” Koerner said. The opening ceremony will also feature a 5K run/walk, now in its 13th year. Other activities scheduled throughout the weekend include a kid’s zone, a fashion show and the Polka Mass, planned for Sunday, Aug. 11 at 11 a.m.

For many, the picnic’s beer selection is one of the biggest draws. “We have traditional German beers,” Koerner said. “The first Oktoberfest beers of the season, typically.” Oktoberfest beers originate from a German tradition of finishing off brews made in the spring to make room in the breweries for the grains of the fall harvest. Traditionally, these are medium- to full-bodied beers in the Marzen style, although modern Oktoberfests often include a wider range of styles.

This year, the club is adding a special beer event. “We’re going to have a beer contest as part of the fashion show,” Koerner said. “Which should be interesting.”

Since the event started as a picnic, the food is always a major draw for the festival. “Our club members provide the backbone of the food service,” said Koerner. “It’s all made by our own people.” Popular menu items include bratwurst, metts, schnitzel dinners and cabbage rolls. The club plans to have plenty of seating available for diners.

The crowd hit record highs when the Budweiser Clydesdales rolled through town in 2011, and the festival continues to grow. “Many people within the last few years have come for the first time,” said Koerner. “It’s a very family-friendly environment, and people like the atmosphere and the ambiance. Everyone is welcome.”

 

The 2013 Germanfest Picnic presented by the Dayton Liederkranz-Turner will be held Aug. 9-11 at Carillon Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd. Admission is free and onsite parking is available for $2. For more information, please visit daytongermanclub.org.

 Reach DCP freelance writer Sara Mastbaum at SaraMastbaum@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

 

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